Kogi High Court sitting in Koton-Karfe, Kogi local government area on Tuesday ruled that the Executive and state Legislature, jointly or unilaterally cannot remove the state Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah without the approval of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The court also declared that the Chief Registrar of the state High Court held a statutory position as the accounting officer of the Judiciary and was therefore, not subject to the control and supervision of either the Executive or the Legislature.
The presiding judge, Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye, made the declaration in his judgement on the suit brought against the Assembly, the governor and three others by Justice Ajanah and the Chief Registrar, Alhaji Yahaya Adamu.
Omolaye-Ajileye who granted all the reliefs and declarations sought by the claimants in the suit said, “On the whole, I find merit in this action and it succeeds. All the declarations sought are allowed.
“By item 21 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), the National Judicial Council (NJC) is the body empowered to exercise disciplinary control over all Judicial Officers of Nigeria.
“It is also said that the NJC, established under Section 153(i) of the constitution (as amended), that has the power to recommend to the Governor, the removal of a judicial officer.
“Where a Chief Judge of a state is to be removed, for whatever reason, it is the NJC, not the state House of Assembly, that is empowered to make recommendations to the Governor of a state under item 21(d) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.
“To allow only the House of Assembly and the governor of a state to remove a Chief Judge of a state or any judicial officer for the that matter, without the input of the NJC, will be monstrous and outrageous as it is capable of destroying the very substratum of justice and introducing a system of servitude, utterly inconsistent with the constitutional independence of judges”, he said.
It will be recalled that the judicial officers had approached the court to challenge the powers of the defendants to remove the Chief Judge and punish the Chief Registrar over refusal to be investigated by the state House of Assembly.
The SUIT NO. HC/KK/11CV/2018 brought by the Chief Judge and the Chief Registrar had as respondents, Kogi State House of Assembly; Speaker of the House; Bello Hassan Abdullahi, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee; the Governor of Kogi state and the Attorney-General of Kogi state.
The House on April 2, 2019 recommended the removal of the Chief Judge and sanc